EDITORIAL: Youth vote carries weight

York Dispatch
Timmer Gross, Spring Grove Area High School, Monday Feb. 29, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

It is true what those closely watching the Democratic primary race for the presidential nomination say: Bernie Sanders and his millennial followers make an odd pairing.

But it is Sanders’ popularity with young voters that largely has propelled him to victory against front-runner Hillary Clinton in many states, like Kansas, Nebraska, Maine — and Tuesday in an upset in Michigan.

The youth vote matters today more than ever. As political reporter Greg Gross wrote in Wednesday’s report “Young voters raise their voices,” local millennials will have a significant, perhaps even deciding, impact on this year’s election.

Young voters raise their voices in York County

In Pennsylvania, there are nearly 2 million millennials registered to vote. In York County, they account for some 60,000 of 273,000 registered voters, according to the Department of State.

Sanders is a bit of a disheveled and grandfatherly type who has talked of creating a revolution. He self-identifies as a “Democratic Socialist” and has the aura of the quintessential baby boomer who has seen his share of civil rights fights. His slogan is “Feel the Bern.” He grew up in Brooklyn in a three-room apartment, and he is nothing if not sincere about fighting for the economically disadvantaged.

He actually has quite a bit in common with the millennial generation that is drawn to him. His disgust with the greed of Wall Street power brokers and moneyed captains of industry at the expense of the working class is palpable. And loud — he’s a shouter of the “You kids get off my lawn!” variety.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign rally at Chicago State University in Chicago, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (Jacquelyn Martin)

And the millennial generation, including those here at home, are concerned about the state of the economy. They wonder what the success of the 1 percent means for them as they try to build a future atop a crumbling and outdated idea of the American Dream, in which children realize more success than their parents and hard work is all that is necessary to propel them forward.

According to the Federal Reserve, student loan debt nationally is $1.2 trillion. It is growing by an estimated $2,726.27 every second, according to StartClass, an education data site at www.startclass.com that created a student debt clock for Market Watch, www.Marketwatch.com.

The York Dispatch has created the Fresh Vote initiative, and we are talking to local young voters about issues vital to them. See the videos at www.yorkdispatch.com.

This much is clear: the youth of America will continue to seek an alternative to the establishment politicians, the economy will continue to drive them to the polls, and their influence will only continue to grow.